Forum des Parlements des Etats membres de la Conférence Internationale sur la Région des Grands Lacs (FP-CIRGL)

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Statement – 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.

It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. In support of this civil society initiative, the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign) calls for global actions to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, and share knowledge and innovations.

The global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2021, is “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, who have been found to face greater exposure including increased incidence of sexual exploitation and gender-based violence, as well as decreased access to reproductive and maternal health care and economic opportunities. Economic and social stresses combined with movement restrictions and cramped homes are driving a surge in gender-based violence, many women are now trapped at home with their abusers and are at increased risk of other forms of violence as overloaded healthcare systems and disrupted justice services struggle to respond. These economic impacts are likely to see the increase in sexual exploitation and child marriage, leaving women and girls in fragile economies and refugee contexts particularly vulnerable.

Globally, an estimated 243 million women and girls aged 15 to 49 have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence by an intimate partner in the last year Emerging data shows a deeply concerning trend: COVID-19 is driving a spike in domestic violence and is being compounded by money, health and security stresses, movement restrictions, crowded homes and reduced peer support. Quarantine and movement restrictions further serve to isolate many women trapped with their abusers from friends, families and other support networks.

And, the closure of non-essential businesses means that work no longer provides respite for many survivors and heightened economic insecurity makes it more difficult for them to leave. For those who do manage to reach out, overstretched health, social, judicial and police services are struggling to respond as resources are diverted to deal with the pandemic.

Building on a call for an immediate global ceasefire, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to end all forms of violence everywhere, on the battlefield and at home, and urged governments to address the “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” through prevention and redress measures in their national response plans.

As we mark this year’s campaign, the Forum of Parliaments of the member-states of the International Conference on Great Lakes Region (FP-ICGLR) urges Member-Parliaments that have not done so, to domesticate the ICGLR “Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Gender-Based Violence against Women and Children” and other related international instruments, and those that have, to play their oversight role over their implementation.

FP-ICGLR is an inter-parliamentary organization bringing together the National Parliaments of the 12 Member States of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) namely: the Republic of Angola, the Republic of Burundi, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of South Sudan, the Republic of the Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Zambia.

Kinshasa, November, 2021